Ziebart World Headquarters in Troy, Michigan
|Founded||Detroit, Michigan (1959)|
|Thomas E. Wolfe, President and CEO|
|Services||rustproofing and automobile detailing|
|Revenue||$150 million (2015) world-wide dealer sales|
Number of employees
The German-born American Kurt Ziebart was the inventor of the rustproofing process for automobiles. It was while working in a Packard body shop in Detroit that Ziebart saw the effects of rust and began looking for a way to protect cars against it. The process he developed is now often called "Ziebart-ing" or "Ziebart-ed", a generic term for rustproofing .
In 1959, Kurt Ziebart started the Auto Rustproofing Company with two other investors, and opened the first shop bearing the proprietary Ziebart name on Harper Avenue in Detroit. In 1963, he sold his rustproofing company to an investor group.
In 1963, Kurt Ziebart sold his rustproofing company to an investor group led by Roger Waindle. Waindle also acquired the right to the name Ziebart which he registered with the company's trademark, a helmet and shield design. Waindle also acquired the right to the exclusive tooling designed by Ziebart which he then miniatured for easier processing. He also patented the process. With control of the technical approach, Waindle then developed the franchise package including technical and marketing manuals. The company was renamed Ziebart Auto Truck Rustproofing Company.
By 1969, Ziebart (then Ziebart Rustproofing Company) had about 150 franchises in the Midwest of the US and in Canada. As Waindle was interested in selling the company, he hired E.J. Hartmann as Chief Operating Officer. Hartmann was an MBA graduate from the University of Michigan who was recruited from Shatterproof Glass Corporation where he was the company's controller.
In 1970, Hartmann acquired the controlling stock of Ziebart and started an aggressive marketing program both in the USA and internationally.
In 1973, Ziebart in Hilo Hawaii opened its doors to be the first and the only Franchise of Ziebart in the chain of the Hawaiian Islands.
In 1977, Ziebart introduced "Zee-Glaze", a protective polymer sealant that chemically bonded to cars' paint.
In 1979, Ziebart (then Ziebart International Corporation) acquired Arndt Palmer Laboratories, a small chemical manufacturer for car care chemicals in Melvindale, MI. This company was then relocated to Redford, MI, and became the base for Ziebart's manufacturing of its own rustproofing sealant, a wax based petroleum product.
By the end of the decade, Ziebart had increased the number of franchised locations worldwide to over 650, while at the same time doubling the retail volume of US franchisees.
In 1980, Ziebart began to diversify its business format and its service offerings by including sunroofs, running boards, window tinting and other automotive accessories. All American Motors cars received a new rust-proofing process called "Ziebart Factory Rust Protection". This included aluminized trim screws, plastic inner fender liners, galvanized steel in every exterior body panel, and a deep-dip bath in an epoxy-based primer. AMC backed up the rust protection program with a 5-year "No Rust Thru" component to its comprehensive "Buyer Protection Plan".
In 1988, Ziebart acquired the North American franchise rights for its competitor Tuff-Kote Dinol. Tuff-Kote franchisees were subsequently converted to the Ziebart brand. Kurt Ziebart appeared in national television commercials coinciding with his former company's 25th anniversary.
In 1989, Ziebart acquired the Tidy Car automotive detailing franchise operation. The brands were merged and over 250 locations became "Ziebart Tidy Car".
In 1990, Ziebart had more than 1,000 locations in 40 countries and more than $100 million in worldwide dealer sales.
In 1995, Hartmann sold the ownership to Ziebart International Corporation to an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) led by Thomas Wolfe, the then CFO. Hartman then retired.
In 1998, Ziebart entered into a co-branding agreement with Speedy Auto Glass and began offering auto glass replacement in many of its locations. Ziebart has also partnered to co-brand with Rhino Linings USA, which offers polyurethane spray-on liners for truck beds.
In 2014, Ziebart introduced a proprietary paint protection film.
Ziebart grew in large part due to its successful advertising campaigns.
- In 1970, corporate advertising started with Ziebart ads appearing in Life, Look, Time, Newsweek and other national magazines.
- On radio and television, Don Rondo sang the famous Ziebart jingle, "It's Us, Or Rust", which was written by Artie Fields.
- Actor Malachi Throne was a national television spokesman for Ziebart in several advertising campaigns in the early 1970s.
- In 1975, Twilight Zone's Rod Serling was Ziebart's spokesman in a series of television commercials
- In 1979, actor Cameron Mitchell became the national spokesman for Ziebart in a series of television commercials that ran for several years.
- In 1983, radio personality Russ Gibb was the voice-over on Ziebart rust protection TV spots.
- In 1985, Ziebart's first Clio Award-winning TV campaign, "Friend of the Family (Rust in Peace)", began running with actor Andrew Duggan doing the voice-over.
- In 1988, company founder Kurt Ziebart appeared in television commercials coinciding with its 25th Anniversary.
- In 1997, Ziebart ran an advertising campaign featuring Batman's Adam West as its spokesman.
Ziebart's advertising agencies of record through the years have included Meltzer Aaron & Lemen (San Francisco, CA), Ross Roy (Detroit, MI), Simons Michelson Zieve (Troy, MI) and Doyle Dane Bernbach (New York, NY).
Ziebart's public relations agency from 1970 through 1993 was Anthony M. Franco Inc (Detroit, MI).
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